Blood donations needed in summer months

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

DONATE: Kristi Womack from The Blood Center spoke to the Rotary Club of Picayune Tuesday about the importance of donating blood.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

DONATE: Kristi Womack from The Blood Center spoke to the Rotary Club of Picayune Tuesday about the importance of donating blood.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

Kristi Womack, a recruiter for The Blood Center, spoke at a Rotary Club of Picayune meeting about the importance of donating blood, especially in the summer months.

“In the summer, everyone is thinking about vacations, what they’re going to do with their kids all day, and spending more time on the road and travelling,” said Womack.

She also said more people take time off work for elective surgeries that sometimes require blood products. These factors contribute to a higher need for blood product donations due to triple the amount of blood being used in hospitals over the summer, said Womack.

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However, less donations are made in the summer.

The same problem happens when people take winter vacations, said Womack.

The Blood Center often has to import blood during these “critical appeal” times where blood units have to be reserved for trauma patients, said Womack.

“The reason why we have critical appeals and shortages is due to the fact that less than five percent of the population of the U.S.  provides 100 percent of the blood supply,” said Womack. “If we could increase that number by two percent it would almost eliminate critical appeals.”

Womack also spoke about the center’s blood replacement program where patients’ families are asked to donate blood to replace the units used. In exchange, The Blood Center compensates the patient, or their families, to help cover the cost of medical bills.

This program is especially useful when patients are prescribed medications not approved by the Federal Drug Administration and are therefore not covered by medical insurance, said Womack.

“This is what sets us apart, because we allow families to determine where they need help the most,” said Womack.

The Blood Center operates in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi and keeps blood donations within the area.

“Everything we have actually stays in the regions that we provide for,” said Womack. “I can guarantee you that your blood is not going to end up in Wisconsin, but some Wisconsin blood might end up in you.”

The Blood Center sponsors blood drives in the community through group donor programs that provide several benefits such as the From the Heart Club for children with cancer, the blood assurance program, the blood replacement program and donor recognition items.

Other times, families arrange blood drives when a loved one is in need of blood products, said Womack.

“When you have a loved one that’s in the hospital you can’t do much, but when someone in your family is sick you want to have action,” said Womack. “A lot of families will come to us because the only thing they know how to do to act is to have a blood drive.”

Womack emphasized the importance of donating blood as a way to help those with medical illnesses and their families.

“Every single blood type is critical in our hospitals,” said Womack.

There is a Blood Center donation center at 318 Memorial Blvd. Suite D. Donors can be pre-qualified before going to a donation center by calling 1-800-86-BLOOD.

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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